A week in Spokane
- Ruth Lafler
Considering the lack of discussion of Spokane here, I'm guessing it's a chow wasteland.
That's okay, I'm not going to have much time to eat anyway, as I'm mostly there to attend an event at the Spokane Arena.
But I will have time to eat a couple of dinners out, plus if there are any especially good markets or delis I'd definitely be interested (any local products I should look for)?
So, can anyone recommend a couple of moderate-priced places to have dinner in Spokane? I'm particularly interested in regional cuisine (I'm from the SF Bay Area), or any ethnic cuisines that will provide an antidote to sandwiches and arena food. I'm going to be staying on the north shore of the river near the park. I won't have a car, but some of my traveling companions might.
Don't let me down, Northwest Hounds!
Having lived in Spokane for many years, take my advice: Run for your life now! Seriously though, understand this place is a cultural and gastronomical backwash. Sure there are fun and tasty places to eat. The Onion Bar and Grill has decent food and is a nice place to chat. For upscale dining there is Windows of the Season in a downtown hotel. Something in-between is Clinkerdaggers which has nice atmosphere and great Creme Brulee. But there is really no innovative foods or excellent genuine cuisine to be found in Spokane. Most delis in big cities are awful if you are a true aficionado so trust me when I say Spokane has nothing whatsoever worth trying. I live in Seattle now and still haven't found a decent Jewish deli or otherwise. Spokane has bologna and American cheese quality deli foods. Not saying that Spokane doesn't have any good food because it does. Just don't expect anything truly special or artistic flare. True ethnic food does not exist there. You'll find some fake places like the Mustard Seed downtown which is kind of good but is hodgepodge of flavors. I haven't eaten in Spokane in a few years so perhaps things have improved some but I doubt it. Unfortunately, Spokane is just one of those towns that will never rise above itself.
Thanks for the comments.
The event I'm attending (Skate America) was held the last three years in Colorado Springs, which is another gastronomic wasteland, so my expectations are low and I've developed coping skills (last year I brought an entire suitcase of food).
Still, I wouldn't want to spend a week there and find out only after I left that the area was famous for some rare delicacy (smoked moose?), or home to a pocket of some ethnic group with great delis (Ukranians?).
re: Ruth Lafler
Sorry for the useless comment, but you might also check around in Couer D'Alene, ID. A very scenic town with a fairly good selection of restaurants. It's about a 30 minute drive from Spokane. The town, although quite touristy does have some interesting choices. I haven't been there in about 5 years otherwise I would suggest specifics. Good luck.
I grew up in Spokane and there's really not much of a culinary thing there. At all. My suggestions: There is a good deli downtown - for the life of me I can't remember the name, but anyone who works downtown knows where it is. They serve enourmous sandwiches with good meat and cheeses, have great pickles and lots of mustards to choose from. It's kind of mid-town. Ask around and you'll find it.
Post Falls, ID. Two good places. The White House for excellent Medditerranean/Italian food. I try to go here each time I visit. This is as ethnic as it gets! Made by a real Italian with lots of noise and garlic. Great wine list for the area.
For breakfast, Down the Street diner. They have excellent egg dishes (skip the basic versions and try the omlettes & scrambles), real potatoes and home-made biscuits and gravy (normally I don't touch these but DTS are unnaturally good).
Coeur d'Alene. Only one place I ever want to go back to: Moon Time Pub on Sherman Ave. Best pub grub I've had in a loooong time, including Seattle. Fabulous service and atmosphere. This will be a regular spot when I visit the family.
I know of a Thai restaraunt called Riverview Thai which is right across the steet from the Arena, in the Flour Mill (which is a quaint little mall with a great view of the river.)
I've never been there, but I've heard from more than one person that Riverview is pretty good and moderately priced.
Someone else posted a link to the Flour Mill, which is very close to the arena. Sounds like the place to visit -- one decent Thai meal and one at Clinkerdaggers (sp?) will probably use up all my dining opportunities.
At least I won't be reduced to eating chain food (although in places like Colorado Springs, Macaroni Grill really is one of the best restaurants in town!).
Thanks for your suggestions, but as I suspected I didn't get out to eat much on my trip to Spokane. I only had three restaurant meals: lunch at Ho Ho's Teriyaki, dinner at Ram Brewery (both next to the arena), and brunch at Luna in South Hill.
In an earlier discussion on Spokane, HLing noted her parents run Ho Ho's -- the place was empty when I was there, and the proprietors were friendly, so I asked if they had a daughter who lived in NY and told her I knew her from chowhound. We had a nice chat (they are very proud of their accomplished daughters) -- they are lovely people. You guys forgot to mention that huckleberries are a local delicacy -- HLing's mom goes up into the mountains and picks them herself for her huckleberry tarts.
Ram was convenient but that was about all. Steak wasn't bad (and was cooked as ordered), but the fries and onion rings were subpar.
Luna is a charming cafe with excellent food and fabulous housemade baked goods and desserts. At brunch they started us off with a basket (with refills) of still-warm nut bread with orange butter. We had both breakfast and lunch type dishes and were all pleased. I had the lamb burger with cambazola and upgraded the soup that came with it to their special crab butternut squash bisque, and both were delicious. Desserts were huge and decadent (I indulged in more huckleberries in their light but rich cheesecake).
BTW, the food at the arena is pretty good for arena food. Not gourmet by any means, but lots of choices and made fresh with decent ingredients.
Spokane definitely has a few places that are well worth going to. The first is probably the best Thai food I have ever eaten - and that includes Bangkok: Thai Kitchen. It's run by a husband and wife team, and because of the small staff, can be a bit of wait to get your food. But ohhhh man, when you get the food... heaven. Incredible flavors, the best real Pahd Thai (no catsup), and the house specialty is Moo Tod (garlic pepper and veggies with your choice of meat). The place is iconic. If you are ever in the area, and if the owners aren't on vacation (which is often), you must experience Thai Kitchen.
Another excellent restaurant is Mizuna. Originally a vegan establishment, it now carries seafood dishes. This is right in downtown Spokane near Riverpark Square. If you're staying downtown, don't miss it.
This is an old, old post resurrected, but I have to defend my city: the rule is in Spokane, if it's hyped a lot in the local free papers, it's not necessarily where to go.
The best chicken piccata I've ever eaten, including in Italy, is in Scotty's Bar and Grill on Argonne, definitely not high advertising. Anthony's Riverport on the Spokane Falls, is a beautiful view and reliably good food. The best Italian in town is Tomato Street, an unassuming family place with a real cozy 'Cheers' style bar, where strangers may share tables. The good Mexican is at Argonne and I-90, Casa d'Oro, and there are a lot of hole-in-the-wall places with imaginative dishes and good old-fashioned food. Burgers---back to Scotty's. The Wall Street Diner for sandwiches, and the restaurant at the Doubletree Downtown, Spenser's, for the best steaks in the NW. Lots of ethnic food: the city is strong on Thai, among many.
Tony's supper club in Coeur d'Alene was a FABULOUS dinner.
My family is in coeur d'alene, and I get frustrated with the food there, but I was really happy with Tony's!
Also, Java for coffee (Coeur d'Alene again). They know what they're doing there.
And I have to have a greasy Hudson's Hamburger. Maybe its just nostalgia, but it's the only time I'll have american cheese